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of the race of men, of all the most enthusiastic toward

great ends, poured itself forth in rapturous fealty to their queen, the great Gloriana. The wild tumult, all around, excited them, but not to evil. The pent-up fire of their hearts vented itself, not in civil contest, but in burning words at home, and in feats of the wildest and most chivalric valor abroad. It was the time of moving accidents by flood and field,' of adventures among 'antres vast and deserts idle;' the epoch of Walter Raleigh, of Drake, and Willoughby, of Davis and Frobisher. But at home, all was quiet. The fearful turmoil abroad came upon the English like the lamentations within the portals of hell, upon the ear of Dante; sighs, weepings, and loud exclamations, resounding through the starless night, and sounds as of different tongues ; horrible speeches, words of sorrow, accents of wrath ; voices loud and hoarse,' with hands together smote;' but they themselves felt no evil, and looked to see no sorrow. The national excitement was fostered and directed by the education then in vogue ; an education, inferior, perhaps, to the modern, in the amount of information conveyed, but tenfold better calculated to expand the mind, and purify the taste; and its result was, a race of men of whom it might be most fitly said, 'There were giants on the earth in those days.' Then was the time of learned soldiers, of polished scholars, of practical and shrewd men of taste. At no other period could have flourished that mirror of poetry, Philip Sydney; now shining at court, now in company with his sister Lucy, writing that beautiful romance, the · Arcadia ;' now closeted with statesmen, now entertaining the ambassadors who came to offer him the elective crown of Poland; now translating from the French of Philip Mornay one of the most learned and philosophical of works in defence of Christianity, and now dying from that musket shot to which his fearless emulation had exposed him. Such were the critics for whom the men of that period wrote.

Then arose a literature, such as no other nation ever possessed. Tasteful and polished, to an unexampled degree, and yet flushed with life and warmth, the poems and plays of that epoch have had no rivals. It was not a time when dispute ran high, although the hidden sources of dissension had began to pour forth their bitter waters; and thus the sterner and graver questions were postponed until the next generation. The time of Elizabeth and James was one of excitement, of fancy, and of gayety; and accordingly, no later writer has been impelled by those brave, visionary impulses, to which our old poets yielded.

Merely to enumerate the elegant writers of that period, would require too much space, so many are there whose works are comparatively unread. Of the 'myriad-minded Shakspeare' it would be superfluous to speak. His works are made even more beautiful by their antiquity:

'Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a time-change

Into something rich and strange.' But how are his contemporaries neglected? Who reads that rare and artful humorist, Ben Jonson? Who is acquainted with the

brilliant wit and touching pathos of that gayest, liveliest, sweetest of poets, John Fletcher, and the beautiful writings of his two cousins, like

'fairy visions
Of those gay creatures of the elements,
That in the colors of the rainbow live,
And play i' the plighted clouds ?'

All these are unread by the mass ; and with them are forgotten those stately builders of verse, Massinger and Chapman, and many another writer, whose productions lie neglected in old libraries, although each the precious life-blood of a master spirit.' For reasons already mentioned, I am compelled to leave all these contemporaries unnoticed, save the second luminary of that time, EDMUND SPENSER, who wrote the “Faëry Queen.' Language deserving of being considered a model of pure and beautiful English, and a versification sweet as the melody of flutes, and smooth as Pelop's shoulder,' form but a slight part of the merits of that lovely poem.

Solemn processions of purple thought,' lofty allegories, and scenes of stateliest and most regal argument, all combine to give light and dignity to what would otherwise be overpowering and fatiguing, through the very mass and extension of its beauty. It is like some vast tropical thicket, choked and matted with gorgeousness and luxuriance, and bewildering from the constant spread of huge trees and lovely flowers. We gaze around us, like Spenser's own knight-errant in the enchanted castle :

6

'beholding all the way,
The goodly works, and stones of rich array,
Cast into sundry shapes, by utmost skill.
The like on earth I nowhere reckon may,

And underneath the river rolling still,
With murmur soft, that seemed to serve the workman's will.'

Spenser was the last of the chivalric poets; and, with one grand exception, he was, for a long time, the last who found his inspiration in nature, among forests and waterfalls gardens, fountains, and meadows. Never was there a sublimer poet, although the height of Milton's imagination is more constantly retained, and rendered less material, by its Hebraic tinge of thought. Milton's poems affect us like those dreams, where unseen yet distinguished shapes of beauty and terror pass before our sleeping vision, and the dusky air is moved by solemn and majestic harmonies. But to read Spenser, is like wandering in some wide-spread garden, with vast and hoary trees, all glowing with the blossoms of the creepers round them; with cool arbors and bright gushing springs; with graceful statues and gay-plumaged birds, now

shown forth by the brilliancy of noon-day, and now hushed in the repose of the soft, still, holy night.

The time of English poetry soon passed away. Long before the death of James, those disputes and aggressions commenced, which as yet only troubled the sweet fountain of our literature, without awakening the national mind to that whirlwind energy, which brought on the Great Rebellion. The nation was like the fabled Cænis, when driven from among the nymphs, and before the repentant god had

endowed her with the frame of masculine strength and figure, invulnerable against all weapons, which rendered Cæneus one of the most renowned of fabulous heroes. Still, one heaven-born mind retained the hidden spark of flame divine; but beside him, scarce one great mind was visible. But causes were at work, which were soon to raise up in one night a brood of men, who should dethrone the son of him who had sowed the dragons' teeth from which they sprang. The Puritans rose up, and banded together for their rights; and high advanced before their ranks, during all that struggle, shone like a comet the fiery sword of Milton, drawn to gain that charter and freehold of rejoicing which we enjoy, by our descent from those iron men, who, whatever might have been their errors, at least thought nothing worthier than truth and right, and feared nothing save the curse pronounced on those who did the work of the Lord negligently. They gained their cause, and the death of their leader brought about their fall, and the restoration of the worst tyrant that ever sat upon the English throne.

It became the sad duty of the two greatest men of that period, to sit and listen to the ravings of a sick and delirious nation. Milton and Sydney were both called to give up nearly all that is held dear to man. The one sat in his hovel, poor, old, and blind; his office taken from him, his writings burnt by the hangman, his life only spared through the contemptuous mercy of his foes; his little property embezzled by his avaricious wife, and his books and furniture stolen by 'those pelican daughters ;' while the other was soon to be called to die upon a scaffold, in behalf of the truth. And in these were the circumstances that gave birth to the noblest of English poems, and the most eloquent and masterly of treatises on politics. The writings of Milton are now 'fashionable,' and they need no praise. But Algernon Sydney's Discourses on Government must not thus be passed over; for if the most just ideas, the most convincing arguments, and the highest spirit of freedom, should secure perusal, then ought that work to be studied by all; as well by those who seek proofs wherewith to establish republicanism, as by such as look for some model which may impart that earnest, sarcastic, masculine eloquence, which lightens and thunders, and rends its opponent, and which, when clothed in another language, wielded at will the fierce democracy of Athens. For so are all the inferior parts of eloquence made subordinate to the sole aim of proving the point in hand, and covering with merited contempt the puny asserter of the right divine of kings to govern wrong, that to read that book is like gazing upon the struggles of some colossal wrestler, whose beautiful proportions and graceful attitudes we might admire, were we not obliged rather to notice the fire of his eye, and the terrible strength which he puts forth.

Time and space forbid us to enter into a farther detail of the disappearance of the elder school of writers; to speak of Sir Thomas Browne's stately and high-wrought pomp of language, and his philosophical mysticism, or to criticize the immortal Hudibras, in which the vast and various learning of the past generation is so drolly pressed into the service of the wit and whim, which distinguished the rising school. Sydney and Milton were the last relics of that race of giants, whose thoughts and deeds have gone through all the world, and in them the sun of England set, after no unworthy course, and soon destined to rise with new, though not equal, brilliancy.

B. F. G.

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ONCE

upon a time, a very beautiful lady received a strange visitor. She was sitting alone in her dressing-room, stripped of all the fashionable ornaments that usually decked her person, and which were now strewed around her in every direction. Some were tossed over the backs of chairs; others she was arranging in her armoire; and the most costly glittered in an open casket on the toilette table. She had risen late, and was now rectifying the disorders of the preceding night; for she had cast off her finery in hasty negligence, after having, at a late hour, taken leave of a large circle of acquaintance, who had crowded her drawing-rooms, tasted her sweets, and basked in ber smiles, for a few brief hours, and then left her to - her own thoughts. These she soon buried in sleep; but the next morning ah! how ‘stale and unprofitable' it sometimes appears ! the next morning, this lady felt strangely weary ; late hours began to have an effect upon her, for which she was puzzled to account. She sank into an easy chair, when her labors were over, and it so chanced that the large mirror, swinging over the toilette, inclined a little, so as to reflect her whole person. She naturally enough fixed an anxious gaze on that much admired form ; but alas! a few hours seemed to have wrought sad changes there. All her boasted charms appeared to have been thrown aside with the elegant apparel that had so lately adorned her.

• How unbecoming these loose robes are !' she exclaimed ; 'and yet I used not to think so,' she added, with a sigh. “And this bonnet de nuit -- I never before thought it so frightful: pshaw ! it makes an old woman of me!' So saying, she removed the offending cap, and throwing it from her, began to arrange her fine tresses into a more becoming head-dress; but the plain-spoken mirror before her told such home truths, in its own quiet, reflective manner, that she found her task an irksome one, and grew fretful with her fruitless endeavors to restore to her hair its glossy blackness, and to her face its dimpled charms.

I thought something was wrong,' said she, as she looked up languidly at a side window, where the upper blinds had been left open; 'it is that odious light streaming in from above, so unbecomingly, that makes me look so haggard this morning; and then the fatigue of so large a party. How beautiful Euphrosyne looked ! continued she, musingly. She was a little child when I made my début on the stage of fashion, and now, behold her radiant in the proud loveliness of a youthful matron! Time was when I could have matched her charms, but now Well, well; I was never before so forcibly reminded of the alteration a few years can make. How changed I look! How very, very wretched and nervous I feel this morning!!. Again she turned her languid eyes upward, toward the intrusive, tell-tale beam; glanced them once more over

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